Road Warrior Animal, whose real name was Joe Laurinaitis, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 60 due to natural causes. Former manager Paul Ellering responded by sharing his thoughts and condolences on the passing of the wrestling legend. He posted a photo of them together long after their time together with the Road Warriors, AKA the Legion of Doom.
In Ellering's post, he mentioned that a waiting Hawk would welcome Animal home. This comment referenced former tag-team partner Michael Hegstrand. The man who wrestled under the name of Hawk previously died in 2003 at the age of 46. His reported cause of death was a sudden heart attack.
Today we lost the engine of the train— Paul Ellering (@PaulElleringWWE) September 23, 2020
LOD. Animal was a partner, warrior, and friend. He will be welcomed home by a waiting Hawk. pic.twitter.com/pJ3BSYRSnQ
"One of the most intense Superstars to ever step into the squared circle, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Animal spent the majority of his career alongside his tag team partner, Hawk," WWE said in a statement. "Together, they formed what was arguably the most successful, popular and feared tandem of all time — The Road Warriors. With their intimidating face paint, outfits covered in metal spikes, and an impressive array of power moves, the duo captured titles and destroyed opponents wherever they roamed. Their dominance made them so popular that the phrase 'Road Warrior pop' has been used in locker rooms to describe particularly deafening reactions from the crowd ever since."
Several WWE legends responded to the news of Animal's death with tributes on social media. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson reflected upon his previous battles against Animal and Hawk. He said that the pair took care of him when he was young and learning how to be a professional wrestler on the road. "Tough as nails. Good men. Greatest tag team of all time. And apple fritters (our inside joke). Much love and I'll always be grateful to you both," Johnson wrote at the end of his tribute post.
Hulk Hogan expressed similar sentiments when he posted a tribute of his own to Animal. He also reflected on past matches against the Road Warriors. Hogan worked with Animal during the 1980s and 1990s and said that his former foe had "lots of unfinished business to take care of" with Hawk. Hogan also shared a video of him wrestling with the Road Warriors in Tokyo.